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STUDIO: A&E Home Video
RATED: Not rated
RUNNING TIME: 2496 minutes
• Original promotional spots
• Photo galleries of production stills
• Season 1 trailer gallery
• Original Year 2 behind-the-scenes featurette
• Gallery of original pre-production artwork
• BBC "behind the scenes" segment
• Original theatrical trailers
• Special effects featurette with Brian Johnson
• Rare "Blackpool Exhibit Film"
• Rare vintage interviews with cast and crew
• Vintage interview with Year 2 set designer Keith Wilson
• Three complete remastered episodes featuring in-depth behind-the-scenes running audio commentary
• Fan-produced series ending "Message from Moonbase Alpha"
• Alternate sequences from key episodes
It’s what space adventure is destined to be like…uh, eight years ago.
Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, Nick Tate, Catherine Schell.
"WAIT! What the f*&k do you mean my space underwear are going to self destruct in five seconds?!!…"
In 1999, Commander John Koenig (Landau) is the administrator of Moonbase Alpha, a human lunar colony which is the staging area for deep space exploration. When the nuclear waste dump on the far side of the moon goes critical, the resulting nuclear explosion rips the moon and everybody on Moonbase Alpha out of Earth’s orbit and into deep space. With escape back to Earth impossible, Koenig and his crew, which include Dr. Russell (Bain) try to find a habitable planet from which to start over; and the various alien races they meet and the harrowingly campy situations they frequently find themselves in promise to make it an interesting journey along the way.
"Hmm, according to this readout, I’m due to have an emotional outburst in 12.3 minutes. I’ll have to research how to do that…"
Being old enough to remember a decent amount of the ‘70s, I definitely remember that I used to watch this show back in the day, or at least the first set of syndicated reruns, but I haven’t seen an episode in nigh thirty years. There are contemporary genre shows from the same period that I definitely remember watching and loving. The Six Million Dollar Man is still as fun for me as it was then, although seeing it from a decrepit thirtysomething’s eyes colors the experience these days. Buck Rogers is still as big a gas as it was back when Carter was running the country (into the ground), with Wilma Dearing being just as tent-pitch-worthy as I remember in her space hot pants.
And the original Battlestar Galactica, with it’s same four or five stock space battle shots per episode, frequently make me long for the days of bell bottoms, afro sheen and disco balls. I’ve seen all of those shows at various points along the last 30 years since their initial run, but Space: 1999? Not so much as an inch of film have been scanned by these eyes since whenever the hell it was that I watched it in the ole youth. Since then I’ve always wondered how I’d react upon seeing this old friend from my childhood. Certainly the nostalgia would wash over me like a dip in a pool on a hot summer’s day. Well, upon seeing it anew, it is like a splash of cold water…right in the face.
"Commander, I told you you shouldn’t have had that Martian bran muffin before we left…"
Space: 1999 is possibly the most boring TV show I’ve ever seen. Ever. Certainly the most un-involving space adventure or genre show I can remember, and this includes Star Trek: Voyager. Five minutes into damn near any episode I watch and I’m begging for some time warp to speed me through the experience. It’s like plodding through the most uninteresting parts of Star Trek: The Motion Picture – for hours at a time on loop. Although the ST:TMP allegory is apt here, mostly for the look of the costumes, the direct influences of the look and design of the show were due to special effects director, Brian Johnson, who also worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey. And the show was also created and run by the husband/wife team of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, who also created another unwatchable piece of TV nostalgia: the Thunderbirds (sue me, I’m not a puppet enthusiast).
"Alright, as soon as we step off this ship, we go and shoot every filthy stinkin’ Klingon we lay eyes on."
"Uh Commander, are you sure you got the right script?"
Heading the cast is another (then) husband/wife team of Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, who previously worked together on Mission: Impossible in the 1960s. Landau is as good as could be expected considering the quality of some of the scripts during the series’ run, some of which he’s gone on record himself as being critical of. And I’m going to go on record myself as saying that the coldest chick ever to hop a spaceship is Bain as Dr. Helena Russell. Russell’s emotional range in 1999 makes Vulcans look like a bunch of drunk Klingons on Risa during a Jamaharon orgy. I don’t know if Bain deliberately downplayed Russell, but considering that she won three Emmys for her work on Mission: Impossible, I’m thinking it’s not due to bad acting, but a badly imagined character. Her demeanor is even colder than that of Seven of Nine or T’Pol, minus the smoldering sexuality. Hell, Russell has the sexual appeal of a dead carp. If she had an orgasm, she’d probably skeet icicles…but I digress.
Luckily for the Moonbase Alpha crew, the Inhumans didn’t mind them using their tanning booth…
The show didn’t hurt for lack of imagination…except for realizing aliens, who all pretty much look human in bad costumes. Star Trek had much the same a decade before, but to try to compare this show to that one is like comparing the masculinity of Richard Simmons to Jason Statham…not that there’s anything wrong with that of course. The show was also highly regarded for its special effects, which involved the use of lots of models by designer Martin Bower, who also worked on Alien and Flash Gordon. And of course special effects designer Brian Johnson is also known for his work on Alien and The Empire Strikes Back. And the production design was sterile and futuristic ala 2001 and the aforemention Star Trek: The Motion Picture a couple of years later.
"Alright, if you give me the house in Maui along with the stock portfolio, I’ll forego the alimony."
"Uh Barb, I really don’t think this is the proper time…"
Even with the remodeling of the show in year two, with more emphasis on action and numerous cast changes, which included the addition of Catherine Schell as the shapeshifting alien, Maya, the show just ends up on a flat note for me, which is a shame. It’s kind of hard seeing so much from your childhood and realizing that it doesn’t hold up over time. I can’t tell you how devastated I was to discover a few years ago that the live action Shazam! was stir-fried kiddy feel-good wholesome shit or that watching Land of the Lost was something akin to having wisdom teeth pulled. Alas, that’s where Space: 1999 ends up for me: a kick in the teeth from nostalgia.
Commander: "Oh, you wanna talk freaky? Try laying the pipe to Maya and having her turn into a platypus right before climaxing…"
Well, they don’t call this the Megaset for nothing. It boasts 17 discs, sporting all 48 produced episodes, along with various special features including photo galleries of production stills on every disc. There’s also original promotional spots, a Season 1 trailer gallery, a gallery of original pre-production artwork, theatrical trailers, original mid-70s’ interview sessions with Brian Johnson, set designer Keith Wilson, Landau, Bain and Schell (two out of three whom smoke ala a typical McQueen interview, and an original Year 2 behind-the-scenes featurette. Then there’s also a BBC "behind the scenes" segment, original theatrical trailers, a rare "Blackpool Exhibit Film", and alternate sequences from key episodes. Rounding out the special features on this set are three completely remastered episodes, “Death’s Other Dominion”, “Dragon’s Domain”, and “The Testament of Arkadia”, featuring in-depth behind-the-scenes running audio commentaries and a fan-produced series ending "Message from Moonbase Alpha". There’s plenty here to keep a ’99er (my little Browncoats term to describe a fan of this show) happy for days…I sadly, unfortunately, regrettably, am not one of them.